From the field: #Plant20 update with Doug Sibbitt

young crop sprouting out of soil

As growers across Canada and the U.S. head into the heart of planting and seeding season, ESN Marketing Representative Doug Sibbitt provides an update of what he is seeing in his territory. Continue reading to learn what weather conditions, challenges and opportunities farmers are facing in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern U.S.

Q: What are the current weather conditions in your area?

Answer: Cool and wet. Temperatures have been cooler than normal which is slowing down crop development. We had snow in April with crop planted. Even with the cooler temperatures, field conditions are drier than 2019. Farmers have been able to plant earlier and plant more acres than 2019. Soybeans and corn planted in April took about three to four weeks to emerge. We could really use some warmer weather to help get these crops out of the ground and growing.

Q: How much planting progress are you seeing so far?

A: In my marketing territory, we’re above the five-year average. We continue to get some rainstorms that put farmers out of the field for a few days, but when compared to 2019, farmers are in a much better place as far as getting crops planted.

Q: What challenges do you expect growers to face this season?

A: I think weather will always be a challenge – it’s something we can’t control or predict. This is really a tough question this year because of COVID-19, which has caused challenges we weren’t expecting. How the world comes out of this pandemic is the million-dollar question. I think it’s safe to say it won’t be business as usual. Grain prices have been dropping, so farmers might not be willing to spend any unbudgeted dollars to help improve yields like they have in previous years. When to sell will be more challenging as well, especially if they don’t know their break-even point.

Q: What opportunities might growers have this season?

A: We still have a lot of acres to plant, as long as the weather cooperates, the crop should have a great opportunity to maximize yields. Harvest should be timelier and therefore, farmers may have time this fall to do more field work. The past two years in my marketing territory, farmers haven’t had the time to do much fall field work.

Q: Have growers in your area made changes to what they are planting this year?

A: Not so much in my marketing territory. I’ve only heard of a couple situations. One in the south of switching cotton acres to peanuts or soybeans and the other in central Illinois switching corn acres to soybeans. Otherwise, I think farmers are planting what they had planned on before the season started.

Q: Why is ESN particularly important in a year with tight margins?

A: Nitrogen is usually the most expensive nutrient farmers buy, and they are becoming more aware of how much nitrogen can be lost to the environment. Cutting back on the amount of nitrogen applied to save input costs isn’t a good recommendation, especially when crop prices are low. We need to maximize crop yields and profit for the farmer, and ESN has proven itself to be the best at doing this. ESN controls the release of nitrogen based on soil temperature and moisture, which minimizes nitrogen loss to the environment. More nitrogen is available to the crop throughout the growing season to help maximize yields and therefore profit to the farmer.

Q: Are you receiving more interest in ESN respective to prior years?

A: I think there is more interest this year due to what farmers faced in 2019. They saw the loss from unprotected nitrogen with all of the rain. They also struggled applying nitrogen at the proper time due to the wet fields, and crops suffered. ESN gives farmers “peace of mind” that their nitrogen is protected from loss in those wet conditions. It’s hard to put a monetary value on “peace of mind” because it’s different for every farmer, but it’s something to consider when using ESN. As I said earlier, I think farmers are becoming more aware of how much nitrogen can be lost to the environment. The 4-R program, water quality issues, and air quality issues are having an impact on farmer’s decisions as well. I think the sale of EEFs (Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers) for nitrogen have continually increased over the past several years. There are more products available for farmers to buy to protect their nitrogen investment today than there were 10 years ago.


What are conditions like where you farm? Comment below and tell us!

Interested in learning how ESN can work for your farm? Get in touch with your local ESN rep or send us a message on Twitter.